The simple art of tuning a drum kit is something that is so ingrained in our minds as drummers.
We all know the routine too well: unscrew all the rods, remove the counter hoop, put a new head on, screw all the tension rods in until they’re finger tight, and tune accordingly.
The process itself isn’t inherently difficult, it’s just very time consuming. In fact, I dread the day that I need to actually change my heads (all of them, not just the snare).
I can’t even remember the last time I switched out my resonant heads to be honest!
The time sink that is changing heads is something we all deal with. That may be about to change, however.
Welch Tuning Systems – New From NAMM 2019
While perusing the newest products from NAMM 2019, one vendor in particular stuck out to me: Welch Tuning Systems, Inc.
WTS was originally debuted back in 2018 at NAMM. Their first kit, the WTS Artistry Series, has just launched. You can pre-order a set of the drums on Kickstarter now until February 14, 2019.
Welch has designed a brand new style of head mounting hardware that revolutionizes the way we drummers tune our kits. They claim that you will be able to tune your drum in thirty seconds.
Goodbye tension rods
On first glance, it seems like a pretty bold claim, however, it’s one that is very much true.
Despite what looks to be inspirations of rope field drums, the technology behind the WTS is highly innovative, practical, and intuitive.
Both the batter and resonant heads are tuned at the exact same time with one point of operation.
Using a high-grade steel wire and a pulley system to hold tension, lugs and tension rods are completely eliminated. Each drum is equipped with a small T-knob to control both head’s tension.
Oh, and how can I forget? Say goodbye to all your lost drum keys!
Better tone from shells
The drums from WTS are maple shells hand-crafted in the USA and feature beautiful finishes. The Welch Tuning System hardware is featured on every drum.
Since the shells made by WTS don’t have as many holes (no traditional lugs to be found here), the drums resonate much better. This is one of my favorite points of consideration when talking about this new design.
Also, there’s only one piece of hardware physically attached to the shell. The inside of the drum looks immaculate and the tone improves greatly.
A product for drummers who can’t tune?
The Welch Tuning System does aid drummers who aren’t proficient at tuning, but I also believe that the drums sound great and that tuning doesn’t have to be the way we’ve always thought of it.
The WTS eliminates the need for the use of a drum tuner, for those who struggle with pitch or are meticulous.
As humans, we always innovate and adapt to those changes. It may be time for the traditional tension rod and lug system to take a hike.
Having the ability to change tuning on the fly is awesome and allows for drummers to have an entirely new sonic palette of tones for live performance (think of using a timpani foot pedal with pitch changes).
I love how fast you can re-tune an entire drum kit. In the video above, you can see the drummer changing the whole set in less than thirty seconds, as they had claimed.
My only big concern is changing drum heads. There must be somewhat of a learning curve to restringing the steel wire and pulleys, but then again, there was a learning curve to using lugs and tension rods as well!
I love seeing the surprise of drummers seeing this for the first time in person. Myself, I still have yet to experience the Welch Tuning System, but I yearn for the day I get to.
The promo below shows it all.
The WTS drums have an older look with a fresh and modern design. Their drums sound great and tuning has never been easier.
I personally love this idea. I hope the group at WTS launches with a huge success. Drums have come a long way in the past 100 years, but I think it’s about time we see some new innovation that could potentially change the entire landscape of drum manufacturing.
For more information, you can head over to the company’s Kickstarter or their website.
If you’re at NAMM 2019 this year, be sure to stop by booth #7545 to demo the Welch Tuning System!
Hi Nick, The Welch tuning system like you said is a new take on traditional rope and tribal drum design. It’s not the first company to take that idea. Research Page Drums and Hudson Custom Drums. Both these companies have been doing cable tension hardware systems for years. I own a Hudson Custom Drums kit and my personal opinion is that this is an evolution in hardware for drum sets. More resonance and very user friendly tuning. The argument against equal head tuning systems is that you can’t tune top heads and bottom heads differently. People can be very passionate about this issue but to me, the amount of holes drilled into the shells, plus an essential straight jacket of metal with lugs, tuning screws and and hoops bolted on more than compensates in the sound of the drums versus equal head tuning issues people argue about. Thanks for the review. Happy gigging!
Though I’ll admit that the cable tuning concept used by Welch Tuning Systems is similar to that of Page Drums and Hudson Custom Drums, the refinement of a SINGLE TUNING KEY is the absolute Nth degree of innovation here. No more tuning lugs … This is where the above comparison ends.
Sam Welch has done it! The hassle of clearing and tuning drum heads for great sound and proper resonance is over. No other drum manufacturers offer anything that can touch this.
WTS Drums remove the final obstacle to preferring acoustic to electronic kits. I wanna play acoustic drums now because I’m not wasting my precious time tuning them. I can completely retune a 6 piece kit in about 1 minute with the Welch Tuning System (WTS Drums).
Jeff, the one tuning key in wts is bolted to the drum shell somewhat nullifying the benefits of having fully resonant shells. To push back on your assertion that having that one single tuning key is the detail putting it over the top and differentiating it from say a Hudson Custom Drum set is actually incorrect. You can tune a HCD kit with one tuning rod. You can actually tune each drum with any of the 8-10 tuning rods that are traditionally on a drum. WTS has done a great job with the integrated pulley cam drum hoop hardware and the fit and finish of their drums. There’s no denying their level of craftsmanship and detail but as far as the benefits of the hardware itself there’s negligible differences between them and Hudson / Page drums with Hudson/Page drums being more fully resonant.